Federal Judge Blocks Texas Abortion Law Enforcement

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The judge said he was particularly troubled by the design of the Texas law, which was designed to make it difficult for abortion rights advocates to challenge due to the lack of direct enforcement by representatives of the State or prosecutors.

“Above all, it is the intentional conception of the law by state actors for the primary purpose of avoiding judicial review that sets it apart – and makes it particularly appropriate for this Court to order,” Pitman wrote. , one person appointed by the president. Barack Obama based in Austin, Texas.

The White House and the Justice Department have welcomed the decision.

“Tonight’s decision is an important step towards restoring women’s constitutional rights throughout the state of Texas,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. She added, “The fight is only just beginning, both in Texas and in many states of this country where women’s rights are currently under attack. “

“Today’s decision enforcing Texas law is a victory for women in Texas and for the rule of law,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “It is the primary responsibility of the Ministry of Justice to defend the Constitution. We will continue to protect constitutional rights against anyone who seeks to undermine them. “

Texas attorneys had asked Pitman to stay his decision if he granted the federal request to bar the law, but he refused to allow such a delay.

“The state has waived the right to such housing by pursuing an unprecedented and aggressive plan to deprive its citizens of an important and well-established constitutional right,” the judge wrote. “Since the entry into force of SB 8, women have been illegally prevented from exercising control over their lives in a way that is constitutionally protected. “

About an hour after Pitman made his ruling, Texas filed a notice of appeal of the decision to the New Orleans-based 5th United States Court of Appeals, and the outcome of that appeal is expected to reach the Supreme Court within a few weeks.

Abortion providers have complained that the new law has dramatically reduced the possibility of having an abortion in Texas, even though the right to terminate a pregnancy has been protected by Supreme Court precedent for nearly half a century .

Shortly after the law came into effect on September 1, the Supreme Court voted, 5 to 4, to reject an offer from abortion providers to block it. However, the judges cast doubts on the constitutionality of the so-called heart rhythm law, which seeks to ban abortions performed after a fetus has reached six weeks gestational age – when heart activity is usually detected. The High Court also left open the possibility of further legal action.

District court ruling ends 36-day period in which nearly all abortions were interrupted statewide for the first time since Roe vs. Wade was decided in 1973.

“We hope the court order blocking SB 8 will allow abortion providers in Texas to resume services as soon as possible,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood.

Yet some clinics may still be reluctant to resume offering abortions after six weeks of pregnancy because a provision in Texas law would allow them to be prosecuted for abortions performed when an injunction is in effect if the law is then reinstated. by a higher court.

“This blockage is temporary and we do not yet know what it means for care,” said a spokesperson for Whole Woman’s Health, an organization that operates several abortion clinics in the state and has taken part in the lawsuit. .

Wednesday’s decision could also hamper efforts by Florida, South Dakota and several other states to pass imitation laws.

Capitol Hill Democrats celebrated the decision but called for legislative action, highlighting the precarious state of abortion rights in the hands of a right-wing Supreme Court set to review Roe vs. Wade in December. If the High Court decides after hearing a Mississippi case in December that states can ban the procedure before the point of fetal viability, laws like Texas will quickly proliferate.

“We cannot continue to rely on the whims of the courts in this fight,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Col.), Who co-leads the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus.

DeGette and colleagues are pushing the Senate to approve the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill to impose federal protections for access to abortion that was narrowly passed by the House last month and is currently awaiting a Senate vote which he should not survive.

Part of Pitman’s decision to block a law he considered patently unconstitutional read like a retort to the Supreme Court for failing to intervene just over a month ago when it had it. opportunity for the first time.

“It is up to other courts to find a way to avoid this conclusion; this court will not one more day sanction this offensive deprivation of such an important right, ”Pitman wrote.


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